Handbooks will only serve their purpose if the employer keeps them current. Four common guideposts to consider when deciding whether a handbook needs updating are:
- Does Your Manual Really Work? Consider whether your existing policies have been followed. For those policies not being followed, determine why. Do your managers need a reminder about those policies, or are the policies not workable? Handbooks often contain policies that seemed like a good idea when written but later proved to be impractical. If your handbook has one policy like that, the time has come for your handbook to be updated.
- Has Your Company Changed? When your company's business or structure changes, company policies usually require changes too. For example, has the company grown to include a human resources director or department? Has your company encountered new safety risks because of a new product or manufacturing process? Your employment manual should address and reflect those changes.
- Has The Law Changed? Have new laws concerning your employees been introduced since the latest handbook revision? For example, on November 21, 2009, federal law was changed to add "genetic information" to the list of characteristics protected from discrimination, harassment, and retaliation. Equal Employment Opportunity policies are common in handbooks. Now those policies may need to be changed to add protection based on genetic information. These kinds of changes in the law happen regularly. Your handbook should be kept current with the changes.
- Have Your Policies Changed With The Times? No analysis would be complete without reflection on the recent changes in the workplace and the world. As your industry evolves and politics change, so does your workplace. The workplace is constantly affected by events outside your primary business. Your policies should reflect these influences.